insideKENT Magazine Issue 49 - April 2016 - Page 69

HEALTH+WELLNESS world health day: diabetes Diabetes can be serious, but it’s something that isn’t often discussed, something that is usually kept secret, or talked of in terms of being the ‘worst case scenario’ illness that could easily happen to someone if they don’t take care of themselves. The truth is that diabetes doesn’t just affect those who are inactive or overweight. It doesn’t just creep up on the people who eat too much sugar or drink too much alcohol. It can affect anyone. In fact, in 1996 there was an estimated 1.4 million people who suffered from the disease in the UK. Today, that number has grown to 3.5 million (and this is just the people who know about the disease; studies suggest that around 30% of sufferers have yet to be diagnosed). And this trend is the same across the world. By 2030, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that diabetes will be the seventh biggest cause of death. So if cases of diabetes are growing, it’s about time we knew more about it; that’s why, on 7th April 2016, World Health Day is focusing on how to beat diabetes. What Is It? Diabetes is the disease that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin. Insulin is a hormone which regulates the sugar in our blood – we need some sugar (also known as glucose) in order to have energy, to get us through the day safely and successfully, but too much sugar is dangerous, and people with diabetes can have a build-up of sugar which can be life threatening. When the sugar or glucose reaches dangerous levels (hyperglycaemia), it can cause strokes, heart attacks, nerve damage, kidney failure, blindness, and infections which can sometimes lead to amputations. Type 1 diabetes is diagnosed when the sufferer doesn’t make any insulin at all, and needs injections of insulin to regulate their blood sugar. Type 2 diabetes – which is much more common, and makes up around 90% of all diabetes cases – is when the sufferer makes some insulin, but not enough to do the job it needs to do. Either that, or the body can’t use the insulin properly and therefore still can’t regulate the sugar. and being older. Type 1 diabetes is less easy to )